Monday, September 1, 2014

EU Heads of State and Government met for a special session at the European Council on August 30, in Brussels. Upon arrival for the summit, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras recommended determination and cautiousness on the Ukrainian issue. "Regarding the unrest in Ukraine we should be determined and cautious" he said. The premier added that European leaders are called to elect "those who care and work for the stability and Europe's strengthening with focus on growth."

On the issue of EU Sanctions against Russia, the Heads of State and the EU Government made it clear in their final notice that Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) could be used as an alternative energy source in case that the crisis with Russia escalates. Furthermore, Greece’s representatives to the Summit stressed the issue of cost coverage for the losses caused by the EU financial sanctions against Russia, noting that Greece’s losses are relatively higher than those of other member states.
More information: Special Meeting of the EU Council (30.08.2014) - Conclusions

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos attended a two-day Informal "Gymnich" Meeting of EU member-state Foreign Ministers on August 29-30 in Milan. The ceasefire achieved recently in the Gaza Strip and the turmoil in Libya, Syria and Iraq topped the agenda.

On the situation in Venizelos made the following statements on the margins of the meeting in Milan: (…)

"The common denominator of all the problems we are facing in the Southern Neighbourhood (of the European Union) – in Syria, Iraq and Libya – is that the very existence of states is being questioned; that there is a trend towards the breakup of existing states and the changing of the map. And this, through the transformation of a terrorist organization – ISIL – into an ostensible terrorist state. This means a great deal and forces us to shape a unified, cohesive strategy against this phenomenon." (…)
  • Important Archaeological Discoveries @ Amphipolis
Αrchaeologists from the 28th Ephorate of Antiquities unearthed a tomb in the city of Amphipolis, near Serres, northern Greece.

The circular precinct is 3 meters high and its perimeter is about 500 meters, surrounding the tomb located in an urban area close to the small city of Amphipolis. The burial mound is 497m long and constructed with marble imported from the nearby island of Thassos and there are suggestions it was built by the renowned architect, Dinocrates, who was a friend of Alexander's. The head of the team, Katerina Peristeri noted that it is too soon to talk with certainty about the identities of the discovery.

Nevertheless, there has been speculation that the tomb could contain the remains of Alexander the Great or his wife, Roxana and their 12-year-old son, Alexander IV, who, according to legend, had been ostracized to Macedonia after Alexander’s death and murdered by Cassander. New finds come to light daily at Amphipolis, as the unearthing continues.

Other ancient sites have been found in the Macedonia region of northern Greece, principally the Vergina tomb of Alexander's father, Philip II, which was unearthed in 1977. 
  • Ancient Coins Returning Home
More good news for the culture and history of the country, as five ancient Greek coins that were confiscated
by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, following an investigation of illicit possession of stolen coins, were returned to Greece on August 4.

The Ancient Greek coins dating as far back as 515 BC will be exhibited at Athens Numismatic Museum. The five coins include a silver piece from the ancient region of Thrace. It was minted sometime between and 515 and 480 BC.

"The coins returned to us today are of remarkable beauty and great archeological importance," said the Ambassador in thanking District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr for their return. "They will be displayed in their birthplace for all to admire, our citizens and the millions of people from around the world who visit Greece."
  • Greece @ FIBA World Cup

The 2014 FIBA World Cup is already under way in Spain and Greece’s hopes for a strong showing are off to a great start. The Greek team dominated Senegal from start to finish in the opening game, and notched their second win against the Philippines with a comfortable lead. Next comes Puerto Rico, and the Greeks hope for a third strike in their winning streak, while Argentina and Croatia will follow.

A traditional basketball powerhouse, 5th in the FIBA world ranking, Greece has completed the transition from the 2006 World Cup runner-up to an up-and-coming team that turns the page over to a new era.

The youth movement is in full effect, as five out of 12 players in coach Katsikaris’ roster are aged 25 or under. 

NBAers Nick Calathes, Kostas Papanikolaou, Giannis Antetokounmpo, along with top-tier European stars Ioannis Bourousis, Georgios Printezis, Kostas Kaimakoglou and Nikolaos Zisis form the core of the team.
  • Greece’s Success in Judo & Rowing
Greek Judo champion Ilias Iliades claimed his third world title, in the under-90kg category, at the World Judo Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia, on August 29.

The Georgian-born Greek fighter is one of the biggest stars in judo due to his all-action attacking style and, once again, he didn’t disappoint as he stormed to the gold medal, defeating Hungary’s Krisztian Toth in the final.

The Greek quad scull team of Spyros Yiannaros, Panagiotis Magdanis, Lefteris and Giorgos Konsolas won the gold medal in Lightweight Men's Quadruple Sculls, and set a new world record on August 29 at the World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam. In rowing, the Greek team had a good head start from the beginning and managed to finish first with a time of 5:42.75 seconds. Their time was seven seconds less that the current world record. Germany came second in the race with a time of 5:45.65 seconds and China was third with a time of 5:46.69.

Furthermore, Katerina Nicolaidou brought another medal to Greece as she came second in the sculls final and won the silver medal, while Evelyn Peleman from Belgium came first.